Skip to main content

tv   Tavis Smiley  WETA  October 3, 2012 12:00am-12:30am EDT

12:00 am
tavis: tonight a conversation with economics professor and best selling author jeffrey sachs, the director of the earth institute at columbia with his latest book about the increasing economic disparity in this country. the book is called "the price of civilization". a conversation with professor jeffrey sachs coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
12:01 am
>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: please welcome jeffrey sachs back to this program. he is one of the most important voices in our time. the director of the earth institute at columbia. his latest book is called "the price of civilization." he joins us tonight from new york. jeffrey sachs, good to have you back on this program. >> good to be back on.
12:02 am
tavis: what has happened in this country since you wrote this book that made to put some new stuff in it for the paperback version? >> this book was about things really going wrong in america. the lack of civic virtue among the rich and powerful that we have expected and that we need. after i put the pen down in a writing the original book, the occupy movement brought attention finally around this country to huge inequalities. we have a campaign between a republican party that has a double down on greed and fear -- for the super-rich versus president obama of who is trying
12:03 am
to steer a middle course. i like to see him steer a little bit more, frankly, even progressive to the progressive side, but compared to where romney is, i think that we have such a clear choice. it looks like the american pink building so as well. basically, more and more people have come to see how corrupted the american political system is, how dysfunctional wall street is, how on equal our society is and how we are not getting out of this trap until we address these issues much more fundamentally than we have. whether we are going to do that or not, i do not know, but the events over the last year showed that we need to. tavis: you reference present obama and governor romney. tomorrow night, wednesday, the first of these four debates, three between mr. romney and mr. obama.
12:04 am
tomorrow is the first that we will see them on the same stage. in advance of that debate tomorrow night, yesterday in "the wall street journal" mr. romney had a piece. the piece was titled "a new course for the middle east," but he raises some domestic issues, . "in recent years, president obama has allowed our leadership to atrophy. our economy is stuck in a recovery that is clearly deserves the name. our national debt has risen to record levels. our military tested by a decade of war is facing cuts based to that -- thanks to the budgetary games played by the white house. our values have been misunderstood by a president who thinks that weakness will win favor with our adversaries. by failing to maintain the elements of our influence and by stepping away from our allies,
12:05 am
president obama has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability. he does not understand that an american policy that letses rult can provoke a precedent and encouraged this order." two paris. let me take them one at a time. in the first paragraph, he speaks to the way he sees the economic conditions in its country. what did mitt romney say in that first paragraph that you disagree with, including the budgetary games the white house has played? what he said on the domestic front that you disagree with? anything? >> i am disagreed with everything he wrote. that's easy, tavis. look, one thing we might agree with is that the recovery is not what we would like to be. we need more public investment. we need more investment in skills and education. the irony, of course is that what romney proposes, or tax
12:06 am
cuts for the rich, slashing government, slashing help for precisely those who need it, slashing government's role in infrastructure, in science and technology, would take us so far away from what we need, i wish president obama had the revenues to do more, but it is the republican side that is blocking that because that party has one idea only. and that is to cut taxes for the rich. we have this multi-brazilian there running for office. his money is in the cayman island. he pays 13% in taxes. he says the most important thing is to cut the tax rates at the top for the. it is mind-boggling that we have this kind of blatant candidacy. people are hurting, people are upset. that is why this weirdness even has a choice. but it would take as exactly in
12:07 am
the wrong direction. president obama could have done more and would have done more if the republican opposition had not blocked the end of the bush era tax cuts for the rich, for example. so romney is in quite a position to be blaming president obama for that when it is exactly this side that has made the kind of recovery we need so fleeting and evanescent. we need a strong recovery, but the policies he is recommending would be the opposite of what would get us there. tavis: on the domestic front, he is hitting president obama offer not overseeing a more pronounced recovered. on the foreign-policy front, he is hitting him on a lack of resolve. i go to the second paragraph that i read, making the republican argument that this president lacks a result. when you do that, it invites all kinds of activity around the world ca.
12:08 am
mr. romney was in new york, speaking at the clinton global initial gen. he argued that foreign aid it needs to have more strings attached to. what is your sense of what he might do these of the foreign policy. the last of these presidential debates will b specifice wii about foreign policy. this notion that is president lacks resolve and our foreign policy is lacking under his leadership. >> i don't know. to think that our problem is too little military seems to me again to get it completely wrong. we wasted a great deal of the past 11 years in two wars we never should of had. the iraq war on phony pretenses. the afghanistan war, another war we should never have had. we spent trillions of dollars, a
12:09 am
waste of money and a waste of blood. it seems what romney is saying we do not have enough military. again, to my mind, it gets it exactly wrong. i think president obama has been judicious in the past year in this arab spring, which is a tremendous amount of tumult in the middle east. we do not control events cared for romney to pretend that we do it and pretend there is a military approach to all this takes us back to the dark days when we were losing so many more lives and fighting so much useless battles. that was the disaster of the george w. bush administration. seems like romney is intent on taking us straight back to that. tavis: if he were sitting in the moderator's chair to run morrowt
12:10 am
your political ideology aside, what do think the american people need to here with the issues that matter to it and the issues that you write about in "the price of civilization", and what would you like to see the two of them go at it? what would you like to see front and center tomorrow night in this conversation? what kinds of questions would you deposing to them? >> of course, the most important issue for the american people is how we are going to create sustainable and fair and equitable recovery, a recovery that and really embraces all of the people including people who are very poor and are hurting. so i would ask mitt romney how in the midst of all of this, when we do not begin to have the revenues that we need when we are collecting the smallest share of our national income in taxes since the 1940's, why mr.
12:11 am
romney, do you propose a tax cuts for you and your rich friend? and at the same time you proposed spending cuts that will hit the poorest people in this country. how could you ever think this is right, fair, or efficient? tavis: what would you ask president obama? >> mr. president, in the second term, what are you going to do to get the american people on your side even more so we can break this deadlock? how are you going to face these interest groups that have been blocking so much so that we can finally get to the kinds of long-term investments that we know you want, but have not occurred yet? addressing our energy crisis, addressing the environmental crisis, addressing the skills and jobs crisis. how are going to pay for that? how're you going to get it done? tavis: do you think senator
12:12 am
obama when he became president and try to hold on to the pledge to reform washington, how naive was he in thinking he could overturn a system that is more and more controlled by lobbyists? >> well, i wonder. you know, he had the right message. it galvanized the country. he had of course tremendous popularity at the beginning but he brought a lot of these interest groups right back into government as he came in in 2009. too much wall street, too much of the private health insurers. i think this was a lost opportunity. maybe he thought, as he said, that a lot of compromise was going to be possible but we needed actually not exactly compromise but we needed a president to to mobilize the american people, keep
12:13 am
demobilize, so the special interests would back off. we did not get as far as we need to go. at that point, after i think some missteps or lost opportunities at the beginning, the republican party has done everything possible to frustrate good, fair policy in this country. i still believe that when president obama wins reelection -- i think he is going to because this message does resonate more clearly as being more fair and more sensible than mitt romney's -- i think he is going to need a different approach. and he is going to have to work hard to say, here is what we need. here are plans. let me lay it out for you. here is the direction we have to go. and not be in the back room game as the white house was too much
12:14 am
when it was negotiating health care, energy, and tax policy. he has to be out with the people this time because we need progressive change, progressive change will not come in the back rooms. it will only, by the american people demanded. tavis: what part of morocco,' = obama'sarack background, his time in the senate, his time in the white house, what gives you reason to believe a more progressive rock, actually exist? if he is to win a second term, he will go about the business that every second term president does, try to establish his legacy. you started by saying that you wish that she would steer the car a bit more towards the progressive lane. i do not want you to do what some americans did it four years ago which is to make a green screen out of him and put your
12:15 am
own aspirations on him that fly in the face of any back story in this life that suggests a progressive fight. i am not to say that -- i am not saying that you demonize him. what are you looking at? what do think that will come from? >> you know, i've really liked the first half of all of the president's speeches, if i could put it that way, because i think his vision for what america needs is really spot on. he understands that in the 21st century, it is education, skills, technology, new science, new energy systems, new infrastructure. he calls that right. i really dislike the second half of almost all of his speeches because there is rarely a plan that is attached to the first half. so the vision card i think has been great, not just great because he can lay out a vision, but great because it is an
12:16 am
accurate vision -of what a productive, modern america in our global technological world would mean. i like that. but he has not made the plans to do it. i ask myself why? of course, i know all the people around, and i find a lot of them too cynical. i find many of those in the white house more dealmakers then visionaries' themselves. i was the president had surrounded himself more with people who really understood the importance of more fundamental change for our country going forward. i hear the president saying things i like. i am not making it up. i hear the direction and i agree with that. but i think he has missed two parts. one is the hard work of the real planning to get it done, because it was like that old
12:17 am
expression -- shove already projects. there is no such thing for the kind of problems we face. he had better work very hard to make them specific, detailed, really do the hard thinking. then you have to do the tough selling, because there are a lot of vested interests that are standing between us and where we need to go. there are a lot of rich people that to not want to pay their fair share of taxes. they want their money in the cayman islands. that our stand between us and where our country needs to go. and president obama needs to sell the case of his vision, what specifically needs to be done and how he is going to pay for it. that really has not been there in the first term, and it has got to be there and a second term if he wants to win that legacy. i am not so concerned about his legacy. i am more concerned about america. we need that not because of his legacy. we need that because we need that. otherwise, we really are going
12:18 am
to have deepening trouble. not the kind that mitt romney would solve. he would make it worse before you can blink your eye. but we do need a different direction. president obama paints the vision of it, shows us which way to go. now let's get the hard work done and let's get the political, the public mobilized to support that. tavis: so i suspect that tomorrow night, the first of these four debates by the candidates, there is going to be at some local, i do not know how pronounced this will be, but i suspect there will be a real debate about the proper role of government. i hope we can have a head on a conversation about that. i would love to see just an explicit, direct question put to both of them about what role of government is as they see it. because that is what undergirds this entire debate is how we see
12:19 am
the role of government. so romney gets caught on this 47% videos saying, in fact, that there are too many americans who feel entitled to health care, to food, and to housing. they feel entitled to health care, food, and housing. i ask you a direct question. are americans entitled to those three things? >> a good society insures those things for its citizens. and that helps make its citizenry healthy, productive, active and dynamic. and the countries that are successful in this world right now, the country with low unemployment, with the lack of priority, with the skills and the ability to compete internationally, the countries like sweden or germany or the netherlands or denmark or norway, they do not say we have
12:20 am
to slash taxes and get rid of government. they say we have to make sure that every child in our country has a chance, has a decent education, has the job skills they need. we have to make sure our roads, our infrastructure, our power grid, we have to make sure we ege investing in cutting ant science and technology. look at the beautiful work that nasa is doing. look at the breakthroughs from the american institutes of health. when we try, weakened the cutting edge, opening up new horizons for human well-being as well as for the competitiveness of our industries. but the successful economy say, of course you need a government because we have a society we need to act together to make sure we are all moving forward together. and romney does not care about that. he does not know about it. it is not just the 47%.
12:21 am
he is so far in his wealthy, narrow club, his money in the tax havens around the world, paying very little in taxes, i do not think he understands at all situation in the united states. i think most americans do not relate to him. tavis: let me give you these numbers. you are an economist. these things i find surprising. i know this is about much more than lip service but i find this fascinating. "the new york times" did a word search, and the democrats used the word poor or poverty for every 25,000 words uttered from the podium at the convention this summer. 3 times forever 25,000 words, they said,. before your guess i will tell you how many times the republicans said the word poor. it might surprise you. 5 times for every 25,000 words. i saw the smirk on your face. it happens every time i say
12:22 am
that. democrats -- three times for every 25,000 words uttered republicans -- five times for every 25,000 words. bill clinton used it 11 times stirred he spoke to two hours long. he is it 11 times it. that is where the bulk of it came. i ask this question. if the democrats to not have the spine or the backbone to raise the issue publicly, to talk about the issue publicly, what makes us think if they get a second term in the white house or a chance to take back the house or the senate that the issue of poverty, of raising the minimum wage to living wage, if they cannot even talk about it, how are we going to get anything done about it? >> because we are. to have to think very hard about a third party in 2016 if the democrats do not come around. it is the true situation you are depicting that both parties,
12:23 am
right of center paries, just the republicans are so far extreme to the right, it is grotesque in their greed and their lack of any concern at all. we are going to have a $7 billion federal election cycle this time. that is a lot of money being raised and spent on the campaign. that is a lot of rich people talking in both parties. the democrats still have some heart in there but they still swing to a far to the right as far as i'm concerned, but the republicans, that is the whole meeting of the party is the super rich and those who can be distracted because the message that they are propounding would take america in such an awful direction. but both parties are too beholden to big money.
12:24 am
neither party takes on vested interests. i agree is the audacity of hope if i could coin a phrase that in a second term, president obama would assess what happened in the first term, how much a true need of america was tripped up by powerful interests and would be prepared to take it on. we have had that in our history at various times. great reformist president. both parties -- theodore roosevelt on the republican side. franklin roosevelt pa on franklin rooseveltr on the democratic side. kennedy and johnson. we have had that to face down the powerful interests. president obama had the mandate to do it in 2009, as we have been discussing. i do not think he did it the way he could have done it.
12:25 am
i am hoping after the election he will see that america needs is so much, the leadership to actually move beyond the vested interest right now, that he will take that as his personal legacy need as well as our countries priority. tavis: out in paperback with a brand new preface -- "the price of civilization." written by jeffrey sachs. jeffrey sachs, good to have you on this program. we appreciate your insights. thanks for your time. >> thank you so much. tavis: thanks for watching. >> there is a saying that dr. >>
12:26 am
there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. rke aset twoher,oge can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you. thank you. >> be
12:27 am
12:28 am
12:29 am


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on